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Home > Holidays

The interfaith evergreen dilemma
Mixed families' dilemma: Whether to have a Christmas tree

Should interfaith families that raise their children as Jews have Christmas trees?

With abundant commercials, carols and "holiday specials" crowding the airwaves, and bright red and green decorations adorning most neighborhoods, American Jews can scarcely ignore Christmas. Many complain of the "December dilemma," the feeling that Chanukah is overshadowed by the holiday commemorating Jesus' birth. But for Jews married to Christians, December creates a different dilemma: It is the time of year when the cultural differences between husband and wife are most evident. Even in interfaith families where the children are being raised solely as Jews, the Christian spouse often wants to have a Christmas tree. For many Christians, and even those who have converted to Judaism, the tree is simply a nostalgic symbol of family togetherness. "I will have people say, 'Don't make me give up my tree-I could care less about Christian theology, but it reminds me of a fun time in my childhood,'" said Rabbi Mark Levin of Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, Kansas.

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